On a regular schedule PYM’s General Secretary, Christie Duncan-Tessmer, publishes a report to PYM Councils detailing work that PYM Staff has completed. You can read a full archive of reports to councils or read her report for the April of 2021 below.
Program and Ministry
Connect Friends and meetings to one another so that we may experience vibrant, Spirit-led faith community Broaden engagement and deepen relationships in our yearly meeting.
- More than 120 Friends gathered for Spring Continuing Sessions to conduct the business of our yearly meeting. The day-long, zoom-based gathering focused on the three shared concerns that PYM is carrying: Climate Change, Addressing Racism, and Membership & Belonging. The take-aways and minutes can be read online. The following were also held as part of our Continuing Session program:
- Question & Answer About Climate Change was held in the week before Continuing Sessions. It addressed underlying reasons why entering into a yearly-meeting-wide witness on climate change is important for our community. Over 50 Friends attended on March 23.
- Continuing Sessions Opening Multigenerational Gathering was held the evening before Sessions and included an at-home treasure hunt, song and fellowship with over 35 Friends.
- Continuing Sessions for youth were held the same day as adult sessions. Kindergarten through highschool youth gathered (online) for Community games and a craft project creating biodegradable planters for planting seeds of HOPE!
- GIANT Children’s Meeting met the day after Continuing Sessions which continues a program for all youth and meetings that is held online on the last Sunday of the month.
- The Runway to Annual Sessions is ready for takeoff. Set to begin in May, there will be at least two workshops every week offered by PYM Friends, collaboratives, staff and more – there is a total of over 20 events in the Runway. This series is in the place of the in-person workshops that we look forward to at our live annual sessions.
- PYM’s Bridge Contacts gathered. Bridge Contacts are Friends in local Quaker communities who serve as points of connection between and among the people and ministry in our Quaker neighborhood of PYM. About 25 people attended on March 29.
- PYM Grantmakers Gathering brought together Friends who serve on the nine granting committees of PYM for an annual celebration of the witness that is nurtured by grants from PYM. The April 1st event also considered the query “What does PYM’s grant witness look like a hundred years from now?” A story of the event can be read online.
- The Legislative Policy Collaborative hosted a workshop: Pathways to Ending Gun Violence: Legislative Solutions. The workshop featured panelists from the Friends Committee on National Legislation and a state representative. 80 people attended on April 10.
- The 11-week series exploring The Practice of Worship concluded. The sessions were facilitated by our Associate Secretary for Program and Religious Life. Friends from Hawaii, Michigan, Maine, and many PYM monthly meetings attended. Depending on the evening, the sessions attracted 20 to 70 people. The final session was hosted by Ayesha Imani on Wednesday, April 14.
- The eight-week series of mindfulness meditation classes sponsored by the Friends Counseling Service concludes on April 21. The sessions are facilitated by Debora Cooper, a Friends Counseling Service Counselor. The sessions garner 15 to 20 people each time from many meetings in our yearly meeting.
- State of the Meeting Reports continue to submitted. Over 50 meetings have shared their reports which is a record high for recent years. Go Monthly Meetings!
Inclusion and Anti Racism
Ensure our communities are welcoming and safe for all people.
- Staff composed and shared a statement on the PYM website in response to anti-Asian Hate being expressed in the US and particularly the murders of the 6 Asian women in Atlanta, GA.
Communications and Technology
Connect Friends across the yearly meeting through effective communications and technologies. Simplify and focus governance and administration.
- PYM Instagram has officially tripled to 600 followers from 200 one year ago. March’s featured 31 days of queries lifted engagement most significantly with the two most active posts being:
- If pressure is brought upon you to lower your standard of integrity, are you prepared to resist it?
- How do I provide space and time for my child to use their imagination, be open to leadings and openings?
- Continuing Sessions drove a 15% increase in March web page views over the previous month and 22% increase in views over the Continuing Sessions last year. A comparison of March 2020 to March 2021 shows an overall increase in web engagement of 34% an a 66% increase in Faith & Practice traffic.
- Communications trivia: 75% of people access www.pym.org with desktops/laptops, 22% use mobile phones, 3% use tablets.
Business and Finances
- In the continuing effort to simplify, streamline and automate processes, PYM is transitioning to using a Lockbox which is a banking product for receiving checks. PYM’s donors will send their contributions to a designated lockbox address, beginning with the Spring Appeal. Our bank, which has many more employees and much better technology than PYM, will deposit donor checks the day they are received. All deposit related information, including images of the checks, envelopes, notes, and return forms, will be uploaded on a daily basis. PYM accounting staff can access this information from an e-service portal and will download portal data into an excel spreadsheet for review. The spreadsheet can then be uploaded directly into our accounting system and shared with Development for donor acknowledgement.
- The Pension Committee, an independent board that provides retirement benefits for Quaker organizations, received final approval to move forward with a new benefit plan. The current pension plan will freeze and all benefits accrued by all past and present staff will be held for their retirement. At that same time a 403(b) plan with generous employer contributions will be instituted. The details will be shared as soon as they are nailed down officially. This benefit change allows a meaningful benefit to be provided to all staff, especially those who do not spend many years of their professional career with PYM and it allows reliable benefits budgeting for the organizations.
- The search process for the Youth Program Facilitator has concluded and Mars Hohenstein is joining the PYM staff just in time for Camp Weekend for youth and their families.
- PYM staff is entirely full with no vacancies.
- The annual request for statistics on membership in monthly meetings continues and at this point 60+ meetings have replied. In addition to sharing statistics, this process encourages engagement with monthly meeting recorders which has been more mutually affirming.
(photo courtesy of Noah Cote on Unsplash)